Tuesday Tips – Columbia Business School Essay Tips

Columbia Business School has posted the essay questions for the class of 2013. Columbia Business School has shortened the essay set and removed some of the more challenging questions since last year. While this set of essays may seem simple and straightforward, you will have less space to describe yourself and your accomplishments. Be strategic about how you approach these two or three essays (four if you are a reapplicant) and make sure you are hitting the key aspects of your application strategy.

Columbia Business School Essay 1
What are your short-term and long-term post-MBA goals? How will Columbia Business School help you achieve these goals? (Recommended 750 word limit)

This question is fairly straightforward and consistent with other typical goals essays. The wrinkle to this essay is that it focuses on your goals, rather than your background or career experience, and that you will want to demonstrate that Columbia Business School is the best school for you.

As you describe your short and long-term goals, make sure there is a clear trajectory from what you plan to do immediately after graduation (short-term) to where you want to ultimately take your career (long-term). Columbia Business School should be the natural link between your current situation and the goals you have for your career.

While you want to concentrate primarily on your future plans, you may need to set up your goals with some context from your current career. You are free to choose the most relevant experience from your background for this essay, so make sure you set the stage effectively for your future goals with your past experiences.

Columbia Business School Essay 2
Please tell us about yourself and your personal interests. The goal of this essay is to get a sense of who you are, rather than what you have achieved professionally. (Recommended 500 word limit)

While the first essay focuses on your professional accomplishments, this essay allows you to present your personality and interests to the adcomm. This is also the perfect place to focus on why you would be an excellent classmate and member of the Columbia Business School community. While it is expressly not about professional accomplishments, your personal interests ideally align with your professional goals and the entire set of essays tells a cohesive story about you.

This essay may be best utilized in a similar way as the Stanford MBA “what matters most” essay. Rather than focusing on superficial activities or hobbies, make sure your topic gets at your core values and what motivates you in your personal and professional life.

Columbia Business School Optional Essay
Is there any further information that you wish to provide to the Admissions Committee? (Please use this space to provide an explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or your personal history.)

If there are any areas of concern, this is the correct place to address them. Strike an upbeat tone here and avoid excuses. Explain your issue clearly and focus most of the essay on the correction for the issue. For example, if you had a disciplinary issue in college, spend most of the issue demonstrating that you learned from the experience and have been an ideal citizen ever since.

If you do not have a weakness to address here, it’s an ideal opportunity to provide any information that you were unable to work into the other three essays. If you have an unusual background, hobby or extracurricular experience, this may be an opportunity to provide that information to the adcomm.

Columbia Business School Reapplication Essay
How have you enhanced your candidacy since your previous application? Please detail your progress since you last applied and reiterate your short-term and long-term goals. Explain how the tools of the Columbia Business School will help you to meet your goals and how you plan to participate in the Columbia Business School community. (Recommended 750 word limit).

If you applied more than 12 months ago, you will need to compose all of the essays in the set. If you applied more recently to Columbia Business School you are able to only draft this reapplication essay. Either way, it’s important to make sure you have made significant strides since your last application. Keep in mind that the admissions committee will have access to your previous application. While refining your goals is progress and can enhance your application, make sure your story is consistent with your last application and that you have thoroughly explained any changes in your thinking since the last time you applied.

Soul searching and feedback from others likely set you on the path to improve one or more areas that may have been weak in your last application. This essay is your opportunity to outline your better GMAT score, classes you took, additional extracurriculars, or a significant increase in responsibility at work.

The third part of this essay is to demonstrate how you will contribute to Columbia Business School. If you are a reapplicant you have likely had the time to learn even more about the school since your last application, and your research will pay off in this essay. Be specific about your skills and how you will contribute, along with the aspects of Columbia Business School that will be of benefit to your goals.
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